I absolutely loved this book. I previously read Billie Letts' previous book Where the Heart is, which led me to watch the DVD. Both were excellent so I looked into what else she might have written, not really expecting it to be as gripping - but to my surprise and delight I enjoyed the Honk and Holler even more than Where the Heart is and I would love it to be made into a film.
Caney Paxton wanted his cafe to have the biggest and brightest sign in Eastern Oklahoma - the "opening soon" part was supposed to be just a removable, painted notice. But a fateful misunderstanding gave Caney the flashiest joke in the entire state. Twelve years later, the once-busy highway is dead, the joke is old, and the sign is as worn as Caney, who hasn't ventured outside the diner since it opened. Then on a blustery December day, a 30ish Crow woman blows in with a half-dead three-legged dog in her arms and a long-buried secret on her mind. Hiring on as a carhop, Vena Takes Horse is soon shaking up business, the locals, and Caney's heart...as she teaches them all about generosity of spirit, love, and the possibility of promise - just like the sign says.
The book is set at Christmas 1985. Caney, a wheel-chair bound Vietnam vet who is riddled with guilt and pain has run the Honk and Holler Diner for twelve years with four times married waitress Mollie O. She is the salt of the earth, constantly worrying herself sick about her beloved would-be-actress daughter. Things don’t look too good for the prospects of the diner as business has slumped over the years. Then along come the beautiful young Crow Indian drifter Vena Takes Horse and shortly after, Vietnamese refugee Bui Kanh, a cook and handyman who barely speaks English and who, like Vena Takes Horse, also hides a guilty secret. Life at the Diner begins to get interesting…
This book is just brimming with wonderful, interesting, likeable, complex characters you soon become engrossed in. I was wrapped up in their individual stories and how they unfolded - their pain, joy, fears and hope.
I loved the pathos, the drama, the suspense, the humour and the feel good factor. It made me laugh out loud and bought a tear to my eyes in places.
It was a rich, relaxing, easy going, page-turning and very entertaining book which I really didn’t want to end. It was heart warming and lovely.